If you like your crime fiction served with a good dollop of wit and some cheeky chappy banter then you realldy do not want to miss this series! I’m delighted to be reviewing, The Red Admiral’s Secret by Matthew Ross.
Before I share my thoughts, here’s what the official blurb says:
A Premier League bad-boy murdered at his newly refurbished home; a teenage runaway’s corpse uncovered on a construction site; a gunman shoots up the premises of the local gangland boss – all of them projects run by beleaguered builder Mark Poynter. Can he fix it?
Things seem to be on the up for builder, Mark Poynter. Mark’s got himself a nice little earner taking care of the sizeable property portfolio built up from the career earnings of former Premier League bad-boy and local celebrity, Danny Kidd. But when Danny Kidd puts an interested party’s nose out of joint by using his star status to gazump them on a development site – the derelict Admiral Guthrie pub – things turn ugly and incendiary, leaving Mark to deal with the consequences.
Meanwhile, local villain Hamlet uses his subtle persuasion to dupe Mark into unwittingly help him launder vast sums of dirty cash but when it drags the area to the brink of gang warfare, Mark’s help is needed to try and broker a truce.
At the Admiral Guthrie secrets from the past meet conflicts of the present – will the rising flames reduce Mark’s future to ashes?
The Red Admiral’s Secret is the second in the series of darkly comic crime fiction novels featuring the beleaguered builder Mark Poynter, aided and hindered in equal measure by his trusted crew of slackers, idlers, and gossips, and the lengths they go to just to earn a living.
Life is sweet for Mark Poynton, he’s a little more financially secure and the girl next door has become the girl in his life, and after Death of a Painter, you can’t help feeling happy for him. But that happiness is not going to last for Mark and you dear reader are just about to be taken on a mad/comic but dark rollercoaster ride of a read!
In The Red Admiral’s Secret, Mark has hooked up with retired footballer, Danny Kidd, and is managing a portfolio of his property, but dangerous dealings and dead bodies mean that life most certainly isn’t plain sailing for Mark.
With a cast of characters who are not to be missed, from the brilliant Uncle Bern who is still the proverbial thorn in Mark’s side to Disco and his dubious work ethic, to the dark and dangerous Hamlet, you really do find yourself wondering what Mark Poynton has done to deserve such a motley crew surrounding him. However, they may seem like pieces of random jigsaws chucked up in the air and thrown together but Matthew Ross has cleverly created them in such a way that they gel and fit together perfectly to provide the reader with a cast of characters who are easily relatable and that most of us will recognise from the paths in our own lives.
This series marries crime fiction with comedy and it works so damn well. It’s dark but full of humour, it is not slapstick nor is it the dark humour used by professionals to cope with the trauma they see in their lives but it is the everyday humour and banter we hear and take part in daily. This makes it downright impossible not to read the book without the corners of your mouth turning up in a smile every now and then.
It’s emotive and it is heartwarming; from the chats with his dead dad and his struggle to live with the disappearance of his brother, we know that Mark is not without his troubles. But he’s a magnet for trouble and while he makes us shake our heads and want to reach into the pages to give him a good talking to, we can also empathize with his reasons for digging himself in deeper at every turn. But would you want him and his team turning up at your door to do a few jobs around the house!
Matthew Ross is a fantastic storyteller, he has created a pretty unique protagonist in Marky Mark Poynton and strikes a perfect balance between humour and seriousness in a setting that feels real. Which leads to a read which engages and pulls the reader in keeping them embroiled in the lives of the characters who inhabit his world. And of course he leaves the book with a set up for book three leaving me counting down the days until the next one!
The Red Admiral’s Secret is available to buy via Amazon but also direct from the publisher in all formats. (NB if you buy the paperback or hardback direct from Red Dog, it comes exquisitely handwrapped! It’s always a pleasure to receive a Red Dog Parcel!)
And currently if you sign up to the Red Dog Readers Club you are getting a whopping 25% off your first purchase! Seriously, what a mega deal that is!
About the author
Matthew Ross was born and raised in the Medway Towns, England. He still lives in Kent with his Kiwi wife, his children and a very old cat.
He was immersed in the building industry from a very early age helping out on his father’s sites during school holidays before launching into his own career at 17. He’s worked on projects ranging from the smallest domestic repair to £billion+ infrastructure, and probably everything in between.
A lifelong comedy nerd, he ticked off a bucket-list ambition and tried his hand at stand-up comedy. Whilst being an experience probably best forgotten (for both him and audiences alike) it ignited a love for writing, leading to various commissions including for material broadcast on BBC Radio 4 comedy shows.
Matthew moved into the longer format of novel writing after graduating from the Faber Academy in London in 2017.
Matthew enjoys reading all manner of books – especially crime and mystery; 80s music; and travelling and can’t wait for the next trip to New Zealand to spend time with family and friends.
Find him on twitter @mattwross